Creating an Ecommerce Website

Selling products on-line requires a very different setup from your run-of-the-mill blogging site. Lets look at the things you’ll need to think about when setting up an eCommerce website and help to explain why they cost more to design.

First let me tell you what we’re not going to cover in this article.

We’re not assuming that an eCommerce website is a single web page with some PayPal button codes inserted onto it.

The PayPal buttons are great and work very well for those selling a handful of items, but we’re taking eCommerce to the next level and giving the customer a better on-line shopping experience.

Most modern eCommerce website are applications. They have a user interface, administration settings, store data in a database and follow a work-flow of processes. We’re going to touch on some of these areas.

The Basics
An eCommerce website can be thought of as a play with actors performing it’s scenes.

The main actors in an eCommerce website are:

* The Customer – buys products
* The Website Owner – ships bought products & gets paid
* The eCommerce Application – interface between all the actors
* The Payment Gateway – handles payment transactions (more on this later)
* The Merchant/Business Bank Account – Website owner’s business bank account (more on this later)

The main buying process of an eCommerce website (‘the play’) happens as follows:

1. Customer browses product catalogue
2. Customer adds product to basket
3. Customer buys product and enters check-out process
4. eCommerce Application contacts a Payment Gateway
5. Payment Gateway provides secure customer shipping and payment details entry form
6. Customer securely enters shipping and payment information
7. Payment Gateway contacts Website Owners’ Merchant Bank Account
8. Merchant Bank Account processes payment transaction and returns control to Payment Gateway
9. Payment Gateway returns Customer to eCommerce Application
10. eCommerce Application notifies Customer of successful (or failed) payment
11. eCommerce Application notifies Website Owner of purchase
12. Website Owner ships product to Customer

Of course there’s a lot more detail going on in each step, but hopefully you get the general idea that setting up an eCommerce application is a tad more complicated than your regular blog-style website.

Where Do You Start?
Sounds silly right, but the first step you need to do is think about the types of things you’ll be selling on-line.

Are these products?, i.e. physical items that require packaging and posting or services provided by yourself or another provider e.g. Professional Yak Grooming.

How may products or types of services are you going to offer? Local or International? Are some seasonal? Do you have a finite stock level for particular items? Do you plan to use special offers & discounts? Do you even like yaks?

This leads to customer and payment questions.

Who are your customers? Where are they? How are they going to pay; credit card, cheque, PayPal? Which bank account will I need to set up?

And then there are the support questions.

How do you handle returned goods? How do you refund payments? How do you handle complaints?

Having a think about the products and services you’re going to offer is vital because the first thing a web designer is going to ask you when you’re requesting a quote is “How many things are you selling and to whom?”

The reason is of course time and costs.

Selling 50 products to a UK only customer base using PayPal requires a very different setup and hence costs, to one selling 1000+ products internationally and taking credit card payments.

Lets look closer at some of the important eCommerce application areas.

The eCommerce Application
Essentially, an eCommerce application is a bespoke Content Management System (CMS). So as well as updating posts and blogs it specialises in updating products and services and supporting commerce functions.

Like any CMS, the application splits the eCommerce website into two major parts; the front-end or shop-front where the customer can browse and buy goods and the back-end where you login to an administration dashboard and manage the website options, including the product catalogue.

The Product Catalogue
This will likely be your most important concern and is central to any eCommerce website design.

The product catalogue is where all your goods-for-sale data lives. The product name, description, cost, stock level, pictures etc. are all stored in here.

We sometimes get people asking which files their products are stored in and they get in bit of a tizzy when they can’t find them on the server.

Usually, product catalogues are stored in a database, but don’t worry – you don’t have to know how to use a database. The eCommerce application does that for you through the product catalogue interface in the Administration Dashboard.

Being able to manage this yourself is vital, otherwise you’ll be going back and forward to the web developer and the costs will rack up.

Thankfully, the eCommerce applications that we use, Magento and WordPress e-Commerce, once installed, allow you to manage your own product catalogue from within the web browser.

The Magento product catalogue has advanced options and allows for things like adding discount codes, customer reviews, product videos etc., whereas the WordPress e-Commerce catalogue offers a simpler solution while still covering the essential requirements you’ll need to sell stuff on-line.

So how do you go about entering and updating all this product information?

The Admin Dashboard
Accessing a special web page on your site and entering a username and password will take you to the options part of your eCommerce website. This is commonly known as the Admin Dashboard.

Here, you will be able to update almost every aspect of the website including accessing the product catalogue, shipping costs, currency exchange rates, payment gateways, sales reports etc.

Whichever eCommerce solution you choose from us, we’ll setup some or all of your product catalogue and make sure that customers can purchase items and that you get paid through a payment gateway (more on that late

The Shop Design
Of course your shop will need a look and feel to fit in with your business brand.

Again, just like other CMS’s a web designer will be needed to develop a theme or template which will transform the default shop-front into whatever design you have in mind for your customers.

Themes can be bought off-the-shelf for both WordPress e-Commere and Magento and you can apply these yourself, however, you may prefer to have a design exactly the way you imagined it and different from any of your competitors.

Themes are applied from the Administration Dashboard. You may be able to change a few aspects of the theme, such as your logo, background colour, text colour, however, you’re not going to be able to move parts of the theme around to different areas of the screen. A web designer will need to do this by updating the theme’s code.

Domain Name and Website Hosting
You will of course need a domain name to trade with and a hosting plan to store the website files and databases.

It’s usually best not to purchase a hosting plan until you’ve spoken to a web designer and they have given you an idea of the best solution to implement.

Many of the cheaper hosting plans that are offered to you when purchasing a domain name, do not support databases or database applications. They may charge an extra setup and yearly fee for setting this up.

So try to avoid buying a hosting plan until you talk to a web designer and have an idea of the type of eCommerce solution you’ll need to implement your ideas.

Merchant Bank Accounts vs Business Bank Accounts
Certainly in the UK, you must have a business bank account to legally trade as a business.

Business bank accounts can be used just fine with an eCommerce application but you will need to setup a Payment Gateway service to handle the payment transactions and get the customers money into your bank account.

If you’re opening up a business bank account and your account manager knows you’re going to be running an eCommerce website you may be offered a merchant bank account which is a specialised version of the business account.

The merchant account gives you a Merchant ID number and access to a Payment Gateway service that the bank uses or owns.

It’s likely you’ll need to pay for the setup of a merchant account and it will incur fees, usually on a per-transaction basis.

If you have already setup a merchant account then you will need to make sure your eCommerce application can support the particular payment gateway your bank has given you access to, otherwise you won’t get your money.

e.g. Lloyds TSB uses the Cardnet merchant payment gateway. Royal Bank of Scotland uses the WorldPay merchant payment gateway.

If you were a Royal Bank of Scotland business customer with a merchant account, you would need to make sure your eCommerce application supported the WorldPay gateway.

You don’t need to use the particular merchant account that your business bank offers to trade on-line, but you do need a payment gateway of some sort to handle payments.

That leads us nicely onto payment gateways.

Payment Gateways
We’ve touched on this in the previous section. Essentially, a merchant bank account will give you a payment gateway to use, but you’re limited to just the one that your business bank is affiliated with.

A payment gateway is a service offered by a company.

It handles the payment part of the eCommerce application when a customer proceeds to the checkout to purchase an item.

The payment gateway collects the customers details and payment information securely and contacts your business bank account to complete the money transaction.

This is great for security too as your customers banking details aren’t kept on your eCommerce website, so that’s one less thing to worry about securing.

There are many different payment gateway services with different features and options. As a supplied service they all charge a fee for their use. The fees can include a setup charge and a % commission of the total price of a transaction.

Some payment gateways allow you to pay a monthly or annual fee if your number of transactions are high. This can work out more cost effective for you if your single transactions are high volume but low individual cost.

You’ve probably heard of some of the more well known gateway service providers and not known what they. You’ve also likely used them without even realising they are there. Some of the popular payment gateways are:
PayPal, Google Checkout, SagePay, WorldPay and ChronoPay.

It’s great that you have a choice and the services are very competitively priced so take some time to check out which is best for your business model. If you need some help, we’d be happy to meet up and walk you through the options.

Some payment gateways offer two types of general services; hosted and inclusive.

Hosted Payment Gateways
These options usually don’t require a set-up or monthly fee, however, transaction costs can be higher than an inclusive service.

The PayPal Website Payments Standard service is a good example of this.

Essentially, it limits your customers to having a PayPal account (they must register with the PayPal site) and when it comes to check-out, the customers are transferred from your eCommerce website to the PayPal website for the information gathering and payment transaction, then upon completion redirected back to your eCommerce website.

The downside of this method is really from a branding point of view. You have very limited control of how the payment gateway service, PayPal in this case, looks and operates before it redirects back to your website.

Some customers can be put off by redirecting to another site as confidence in security can be questioned (although PayPal in this instance has a very good reputation).

You’re also limiting the payment method to just those customers who are willing to use the payment gateway’s choice of payment. In this case, the customer must have a registered PayPal account.

A similar process happens if you use the Google Checkout payment gateway.

So what’s the other option?

Inclusive Payment Gateways
Inclusive payment gateways will allow your customers to go through the whole checkout process without (the appearance of) leaving your branded eCommerce website.

I added in “the appearance of” because in some cases your customers will actually leave your website and use the payment gateway service, however, the way it is implemented and embedded makes it looks as if it’s all part of your website and business brand.

So what’s the catch?

There’s usually a setup fee, a minimum subscription period (say 12 months), a monthly fee and of course a whole heap of conditions that apply.

Some particular conditions to look out for are thresholds on the number of transactions per month, or total monthly funds transferred. Payment gateway services can charge extra or insist you upgrade your service if these thresholds are exceeded in a similar way that mobile phone companies will charge you extra if you use up all your inclusive talk or SMS time.

The best benefit of using an inclusive payment gateway is that the whole customer experience from browsing to payment is hosted on your own website. This gives the customer a greater sense of confidence that their data will be kept safe and makes your whole business look and feel more professional.

A good example of this type of service is the PayPal Web Payments Pro.

Securing The Data
If you’re using a payment gateway then the good news is it’s unlikely you’ll be storing sensitive customer payment details on your eCommerce website.

Those types of data will be kept securely in your payment gateway account.

Of course you will be collecting a whole lot of other important and confidential customer information such as name, email, perhaps address, likes, dislikes, a username and password for your site.

All this information needs to be kept secure and your eCommerce application will help with that. The Administration Dashboard will have lots of sections that control who and what can see parts of the collected data.

But that’s not the only security you’ll have to think about. Do you know what happens when you fill out a form on a website and click on submit?

If you have a look at the top of the web browser in the address bar you’ll see the website’s URL address. Most sites will start with http://

(For those that want to know, URL stands for Uniform Resource Location and HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol)

Any web page starting with http:// is transferring data to and from a web server in Plain Text.

This means, that the web page contents, code, images, text, form data are all sent in a format that’s readable to humans. OK, it may not be that readable, but in essence all the information is there in English characters (or whatever language character set your website uses).

Now for some more techie stuff.

When your web page is sent to or received from a web server, there isn’t a 1-to-1 direct connection between your website and the server. The web page data is transferred through hundreds of networks across different countries and through thousands of routing computers and other network devices before arriving at your computer.

This means that at any point during it’s travel, your web page data has the potential to be intercepted and read by whomever.

There isn’t much you can do about the interception part but there is something you can do to make it a darn lot harder for somebody to read and use your eCommerce web page data.

SSL Certificates
Now we’re talking.

Let’s skip the techie bit and quickly tell you what these are and what they do.

You buy an SSL certificate from a web hosting company (annual renewal most likely), install it into your eCommerce website and it encrypts your web page data. Hooorah!

You’ll now notice that parts of your website, likely those that require personal form data to be collected and sent, now start with https://

The addition of that little “s” letter, standing for “Secure”, means that the web page data is encrypted when sent and decoded only at the two end-points; your computer and a web server.

Anyone reading the page in between will see garbled non-readable characters.

You may also see additional signs of a secured web page such as a closed padlock icon.

We would strongly advise you buy an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate and get this installed and configured for use with your hosting account and eCommerce website.

In Summary
Creating an eCommerce website requires a fair amount of planning.

You’ll need a good web design and web development team to implement your business venture.

It will cost you more and take longer to create than a regular blog or brochure-ware website because of all the design and setup.

You’ll make money – and that’s what’s it’s all about after all…

We hope this helps you start your eCommerce website journey. Of course there’s a heap of things we just didn’t have the time to cover.

Essentials Of Highly Healthy People

1.0 INTRODUCTION AND DEFINITION

Health is derived from the old English word “whole”. The definition of Health is intended to include those things that “make a person whole” which means more than just physical well-being.

In 1948, World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as a state of complete physical, mental, social or relational well-being and not merely the absence or disease of infirmity. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.

In 1984, WHO added spirituality to its list of factors necessary for optimum health. If we are to be truly healthy, the physical, mental and spiritual elements must be functioning as God designed them to function. The physical may be the most unimportant of the three because with good mental and spiritual health, we can still be content even though our bodies may be unhealthy.

From ancient to modern times, authoritative sources indicates that health is continually defined in terms of the physical, emotional, mental, relational and spiritual well-being.
Health is a major topic in the Bible and it is viewed primarily as the restoration and strengthening of one’s personal relationship with God. It is also viewed as a healthy lifestyle (physically and emotionally) that focuses on passing healthy relationships with your family and with other people.

Being highly healthy means being healthy in every area of your life during every stage of your life. It means being balanced in these areas: body, mind, spirit and community usually taken as the four “wheels” of Health. By balancing these aspects of health, you can become blessed and thus, highly healthy.

2.0 PRINCIPLES ESSENTIAL TO BEING HIGHLY HEALTHY

a. The essential of balance
b. The essential of self-care
c. The essential of forgiveness
d. The essential of reducing SADness (Stress, Anxiety and Depression)
e. The essential of relationships
f. The essential of spiritual well-being
g. The essential of positive self-image
h. The essential of discovering your destiny
i. The essential of personal responsibility and
j. The essential of empowerment
k. The essential of team work.

These are designed and programmed into the very core of our beings. It is important they are understood, learnt and applied in our daily living in order to become highly healthy.

3.0 FOUR WHEELS OF HEALTH

These wheels are likened to the four wheels of a stable car with strong spokes for each wheel all wheels in balance. They represent the:

a. physical health – the well-being of one’s body

b. emotional health – the well-being of one’s mental faculties and one’s connection with his or her various emotions.

c. relational health – the well-being of one’s association with family, colleagues and friends in the context of a community that is healthy and

d. spiritual health – the well-being of one’s relationship with God

Further indepth into them shows:

(a) The physical wheel

Maximum physical health occurs when the body with all its chemicals, parts and systems is functioning as closely as possible to the way God designed it to function. For a person to be physically healthy, disease must be prevented whenever possible and treated as needed. When illness or disorder is incurable, physical health involves learning to cope with and adapt to physical disease.

With good emotional, relational and spiritual health, a person can still be highly healthy, even though his or her body may not be “whole”.

The major determinants of physical health are the activities you engage in (exercises, walk), rest hours (sleep, relaxation, vacations, recreation). Intake into the body (water, good, and toxins) fruits and vegetables, mineral in-take of caffeine, tobacco, soft drinks, saturated fats, highly processed foods, fast food and sweets, illicit drugs, alcoholic drink, beverages); elimination (urine, stool, bowel movements).

(b) Emotional wheel

This is the state of maximum emotional and mental well-being. It is not the absence of emotional distress which is unavoidable for any imperfect human being. Being emotionally healthy requires learning to cope with and to embrace the full spectrum of human emotions each of us faces everyday throughout our lives. It requires healthy brain function. If the brain dyefunction is untreated, it becomes non-functional and throws his physical, emotional, relational and spiritual wheels out of balance. This has to do with stimulation (too hot, too cold or just right). If you experience too much or too little stimulation, if you are too busy or exceptionally bored, you are suffering from emotional health. Enough quiet is required in everyone’s life. Another aspect which is quietness (peace, tranquility in one’s soul), lack of self-worth, lack of intimacy with others, loneliness associated with accumulated grudges towards others or yourself, lack of intimacy with God are the major causes of emotional pain. Any of these lacks can lead to simmering, embittering anger towards others or yourself or God.

Life long learning is important to one’s health. As the physical exercise helps the heart, muscles and bones, stay healthy, your brain benefits from mental actuality. Continuing to educate yourself and staying mentally active are ways to protect yourself from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Regular reading, having a challenging job and participation in ongoing education is linked with sharper mind later in life. Teaching, crossword puzzles, class or church education all help the maintenance of emotional wheel.

(c) Relational Wheel

This is the state of maximum well-being in all our social relationships – those with family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, co-workers, broader community. Relational stress and discord are inevitable as we interact with fellow human beings. We have to do all we can to prevent and “treat” disordered relationships. Relational wheel involves trusting people and relations, parents, children, spouse, extended family, friends and support groups.

The relationship you have with your parents plays a critical role in determining your ability to have good relationships with others. If your parents balanced love with discipline, freedom with limits, and nurture with training, and if your relationship with them when you became adult was healthy, enjoyable and affectionate, then you have a good relational health. The same with children and spouses. Our relations – sisters, brothers aunts, uncles, cousins and nephews have profound impact on our mental, physical and spiritual health.

Friends also play important role in predicting premature death and disease. People who have nobody caring for them, who do not feel close to anyone, have no one in whom to confide are likely to suffer premature death or disease more. Having friends who love, care for us with unconditional support give us powerful positive health benefits.

(d) Spiritual wheel

This is defined as the state of maximum well-being in our personal relationship with our creator. To be spiritually healthy, any separation or disharmony on our relationship with God must be prevented or treated. This is the most crucial one of all the other aspects of health.

Healthy people make their spiritual well-being a consistent priority by actively seeking to understand Gods plans and design for them in terms of their physical, emotional, relational and spiritual condition, seeking and accepting their creator’s personal instructions and direction in their lives. If the spiritual wheel is given less attention than the other three, we cannot be highly healthy while, we are not promised a perfectly healthy physical life, the Bible promises those who have a vital personal relationship with God an abundant life one that will be full and meaningful – infused with purpose, contentment and joy.

To have spiritual health, trust in God, pray and meditate and fellowship in a faith community and faith sharing.

4.0 HOW TO BECOME A HIGHLY HEALTHY PERSON

The Essential of Balance: Set a wise balance in your life – the “health car” with its four “wheels of health” cannot run smoothly without all wheels running well i.e. being in balance. Neglecting one or more of your wheels of health will result in imbalanced health problems. You cannot become a highly healthy person without first diagnosing your unique areas of disease and maintenance.

b. The Essential of Self-care: Be proactive in preventing disease.. The secret to becoming and staying highly healthy is to prevent “disease” in body, mind, spirit and in relationships as much as is possible.

i. Exercise makes you feel healthier than eating does. Regular exercise help to control weight, improve overall health, reduce risk of such medical problems as diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.

ïi. Exercise for at least 30 minutes five days per week.

iii Exercise regularly and consistently to control your weight

iv. avoid highly processed foods.

v. eat nutritious diet and do not over eat. Eat foods with high fibre content, whole grains, nuts, sugar yogurt and low in calories, salt, saturated fats and refined sugars. Health enhancing fish is important too.

vi. drink lots of water and do not smoke.

vii. consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

viii. do not consume alcohol or tobacco products.

ix. Practice and enjoy regular sex with your legal spouse in mutually monogamous relationship.

c. The Essential of Forgiveness: Practice acceptance and letting go.

F = Forgiving is highly healthy
O = Organize your thoughts by writing
R = Review your experience
G = Give the Boot to anger and Regret
I = Invest in removing resentment
V = Victory comes in forgiving others
I = Increase your gratitude for the past pain
N = Navigate to inner place
G = Give comfort to others.

d. The Essential of Reducing SADness-stress, Anxiety and depression). Lighten your load.

1. STRESS is any change that required you to adapt or change the way you are doing something. Stress is virtually unavoidable in contemporary life. Stress can come from big things – retirement, job change, pregnancy, new baby, loss of loved one, new school, new job or from little things – change in weather, flat tyre or traffic jam, sudden deadline, misplaced house keys or an electrical outage. These events are technically called stressors. Some stress is good. We are made to withstand some amount of stress which can help us grow physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. Too much stress at one single time or for too long a time usually called chronic stress can lead to weakness in all 4 of our health wheels. We are created to respond to stress in a variety of physical, emotional, and spiritual ways. When confronted with more stress than we are designed for – a large stress all at once or smaller amount of relentless.

Stress, our blood pressure and pulse increase. In the short run, this is healthy but in the long run, if the natural fight (stress) response becomes our way of life and can hurt in many ways:

ii. it can damage blood vessels and heart

iii. it can cause the body to release hormons that cause the liver to release sugar, store fat.

iv. it can cause adrenal glands to “poop out”.

v. it can cause our muscles to tense up

vi. it can increase the release of stomach acid and affect the motility of the intestine and colon leading to a variety of gastrointestinal upsets and disturbances.

vii. it can suppress the immune system – possibly making us more susceptible to infections and to certain chronic illnesses.

viii. Too much stress can and will keep you from becoming a highly healthy person.

2. ANXIETY in its most basic form is healthy – designed by our Creator to arouse us to and get us ready for action. Anxiety can prepare you physically and emotionally for a threatening situation. Anxiety is designed both to help us cope and to assist us in performing at a high level. But an anxiety disorder occurs when normal anxiety does the opposite – instead of helping you cope, it prevents you from coping and dramatically disrupts your daily life.

General anxiety disorder comes on without any trigger. People with general anxiety disorder worry about health, money, job, family or work. They are unable to relax and often have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Their worries are almost accompanied by physical symptoms such as trembling, twitching, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, sweating or hot flashes; nauseated, go to bathroom frequently, have palpitations or atypical chest pains, feel tired, cannot concentrate and suffer depression. This is more common in women than in men.

3. DEPRESSION weakens the emotional wheel and prevents people from becoming highly healthy. It often accompanies anxiety disorder. Depression is commonly accompanied by feeling of sadness, apathy and hopelessness as well as changes in appetite or sleep. Depression can also make it difficult for some people to concentrate. Some types of depression can be treated using modern anti-depression medications, dietary supplements, nutritional therapies, exercise, light therapy, pastoral counseling or psychotherapy. Some researchers conclude that depression is caused by an imbalance in the hormones of the brain.

4. The Essential of Relationship: Avoid loneliness. Loneliness leads to evil plans. If your brain stays idle, it becomes sick and deteriorates into the devil’s workshop and you become automatically the devils work tool. Always engage yourself in meaningful ventures.

i. live with and depend on the extended family who offer cradle to grave security and support.

ii. avoid loneliness, relationships with neighbours, family and friends are vital.

iii. respect the elders so that when they become elderly, they enjoy the admiration, honour, esteem and affection of their families and of society.

iv. Build family intimacy.

5. The Essential of spiritual well-being: Cultivate a time for spirituality.

The Bible promises that if we choose to trust God and live according to the purpose he designed for each of us or we can rely instead on our own finite plans and efforts. It promises also that if we choose God to fill and empower our very Souls, then we will develop spiritual fruit that endures, regardless of our circumstances or the state of our physical, emotional, or relational health. All the good things of life – right marriage, right job, right kids, right amount of money, right car or house or clothes can only be added to the most important element of wellness, namely, seeking, knowing, and pleasing God. If we believe in and trust God, if we make an intimate relationship with him a priority, if he controls and empowers our lives and we seek our purpose in his grand design, then we will experience wholeness at the deepest level of our being.

Spiritual healthiness ensures longer life, lower Blood pressure, improved surgical outcomes, shorter hospital stays, improved mental health, overall well-being:

i. Place your relationship with God at the centre of your life

ii. Read, memorize and meditate on Bible passages daily.

iii. Spend time on meditation and prayer daily.

6. The essential of a positive self-image: See yourself as your Creator sees you.

Our human nature is to compare ourselves to others. This results in feelings of inferiority. This is called compare and despair problem.

If your self-esteem is low, you need to do these:

i. Avoid negative self-talk

ii. Think positively

iii. Aim above the normal standard

iv. Do the things that bring joy and satisfaction

v. Serve others.

Other essentials necessary for healthy living are:

7. The Essential of Discovering Your Destiny (Nurture your hopes and dreams)
8. The Essential of Personal Responsibility (Be your own health care controller)
9. The Essential of Empowerment (Imitation is limitation as you can get to the level you wish in
your life setting your own goal for yourself).
10. The Essential of Team Work (Team up with winning health care providers)

5.0 CONCLUSION

You can decide today to live a highly healthy life having seen the methods, benefits and consequences of being healthy and not. Your destiny is in your own hands and the choice is yours. Spend time each week with highly healthy people and you will change for the better is yours. Spend time each week with highly healthy people and you will change for the better.

The Impact of Technology in the Classroom

How has the use of technology impacted teaching and learning in the PK-16 classroom?When is comes to behaviorism technology has made it even easier. It used to be just like Pavlov’s dog, when the student does something right they get praised verbally or with a good grade versus a treat or a scratch behind the ear. Shaping behavior is important and we need to ensure there is a baseline. Technology almost guarantees that specific learning will take place as the objectives are determined by the teacher. Teachers can set specific goals and the students will know what they need to do to get there. Benjamin Bloom first came up with the idea that the student will succeed in learning the task if they are given a specific time to do it. Technology allows for you to more easily chunk lessons into specific times. Students will perform better, especially when they succeed and get the praise of the teacher. Although the stimulus is provided by the teacher, it will do no good if the students do not receive it equally. (Snowman & Biehler, 2003)
Other ways computers assist is that they offer the ability for repetition and feedback to the student. Teachers can also incorporate the appropriate enforcer’s to the lesson whether it is text, video or audio. The student does the task right they can get a smiley face , text telling them they are “Correct” or audio saying “Good Job!”. (Parkay & Stanford 2004)Social Learning is learning occurs when students learn from each other whether it be through modeling, imitation or observing within the social context. How can you do that with technology? Normally the students work on their own computer, but you can have them do a group project. When students do a project together they will observe how other groups are proceeding and imitate them if it is working well. The teacher usually also models what they are requiring the students to accomplish. Even when working individually the students will assist each other as one knows more than another.There are cognitive factors in social learning as well as behaviorism. There is a clear line between learning by observation and student imitation. The cognitive process maintains that the attention of the student is the critical factor in the learning process. The expectations and consequences that are reinforced will bring about similar future behavior. (Ornstien & Lasley 2000)
Cognitive learning is learning that occurs when a learner process information. This is similar to behaviorism but the student has more input to accomplish how they reach the planned outcome. The teacher can model a project but the student may have other information that will aid them in accomplishing the outcome. An example would be how I instructed my students how to set up an Excel spreadsheet. I had them set up a basic spreadsheet showing how much their parents spent on them in a month. This was relevant to the students and caught their interest. They went beyond the initial project and had boarders, colors, etc. on their spreadsheets. The students who did this were praised aloud and the other students wanted to know what they did and how. This tied in the social learning as well as the behaviorism theory (Didn’t even realize it at the time).When is comes to designing and developing lessons to incorporate technology the constructionist have the nod. Seymour Papert of the MIT Media Lab stated,”Constructionism holds that children learn best when they are in the active role of the designer and constructor.” When the student is actively involved they have the buy-in to the success of the project or assignment. The students will be more apt to complete and learn more from it when they have some ownership. The students in turn will share their new found information when doing the assignment with the other students allowing for the constructionist learning. This form of teaching eliminates the grade and goes more with a go, no go process. Teachers assess the students by the completion of the assignment or lack of completion. This is better because of students being able to play a greater role in the process and assessing their own progress.We teach ourselves how to learn. This is the constructivism theory on how we learn. With technology this couldn’t be truer. Most students have a basic understanding of the computer. They can download songs, play games and set up Myspace web page. What they can not do is build a spreadsheet or power point presentation. The teacher will give them a basic understanding but the students will learn from trial and error and construct their own learning.History of the computer use in the classroom started off slow. Saloman and Globerson (1987) suggested that underachievement in schools is because of the lower expectations on the part of the teachers, parents, and society. That was because the teachers themselves really hadn’t been exposed to the marvels of what a computer and the associated software could do for them. The Commodore 64, Apple II along with the Macintosh began their strong emergence in the early 80′s. Software programmers had a vision about the computer and how it could be used in the classroom. They developed software that teachers could use along with their instruction. Apple began teaching the teachers and Macintosh soon followed suit. This was the beginning of incorporating the use of computers in the classroom. (Jonassen 2000)Using computers in the classroom allows for all the learning theories to come to fruition. A computer allows for the cognitive process to bloom and brings about the social learning as well. When a student is given an assignment or project on the computer they will strive to complete it. The different things they learn they will share with other students especially if they think it is the bomb, cool or whack. On the flip side it can inhibit learning if the student is completely computer illiterate as frustration sets in as they cannot proceed as well as others. The computer also allows the teacher to develop lessons for all the multiple intelligences.With the advances computers and programs are taking on a daily basis, it is allowing for more interaction in the classroom(s). It is even allowing students from different schools to interact. Technology also allows for time to be better utilized, the outcomes of the objectives to be more easily determined and goals easy to implement and automate.